Title: Ani’s Raw Food Essentials
Author: Ani Phyo
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Date: 2010

I am skeptical of raw food. If I lived in Vietnam, or near the equator, I could maybe understand the desire to eat only cold and lukewarm foods. However, I live and have always lived, in places where snow is a given for a significant portion of the year. There are no avocado trees, and I don’t have the option of buying fresh dates at my farmer’s market or grocery store. Fortunately, Ani writes for general audience and readily acknowledges that even the most devoted may find that hot soup can be comforting to the soul.

That bias aside, Ani’s recipes appeal to me some of the time. They are well-written, and I can say that her “cake” aka date nut squares were delicious. I am looking forward to making some of her “bread,” although I’ll use a warm oven setting instead of a dehydrator. Dishes like Tahini Zucchini Rolls would almost definitely go over well at any snazzy cocktail party, and would make nice summer fingerfood. I will definitely make her version of Nutella immediately after I buy some hazelnuts.

On the other hand, the spelling and her insistence on making faux foods made me want to take a red pen to a very nice library book. “Cheeze” is neither spelled with a z, nor is it make from cashews. Like tofu is not cheese, it’s tofu and perfectly good when eaten as tofu. “Mylk” may circumvent lawsuits from the dairy industry, but they already lost that one. And pizza should involve neither celery nor avocado.

Nonetheless, it’s an interesting place to explore some day when it’s hot and you can invest in some quality time with your blender and knives. I would suggest starting with the salads and wraps, then moving on to more complex foods. She uses generous amounts of healful foods that we should eat more often, and very few foods we should avoid eating in large amounts. If her cookbook inspires you to eat more produce, Ani has achieved a significant measure of success and I can only applaud her.

Website: http://www.aniphyo.com

*Please note that there are some challenges to beginning a fully “raw” diet, so you should do so with careful thought to the nutrients you need and the foods you are consuming.